Officer accused of terrorizing citizens, still on force - CBS46 News

Officer accused of terrorizing citizens, still on force

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A Metro Atlanta police officer is accused of being out of control and assaulting the citizens he was sworn to serve and protect.

CBS Atlanta News has obtained more than 500 pages of internal affairs complaints lodged against Clayton County police officer Michael Hobbs in the last five years.

Chief Investigative Reporter Wendy Saltzman found dozens of use-of-force reports brushed aside by Clayton County internal affairs, including claims Hobbs is terrorizing citizens.

One of those citizens is Brian Hoolihan.  Hoolihan passed out in his car along side a road in Clayton County in a diabetic coma back in 2007.  He had a sticker on the window of his car, warning about his life threatening medical condition.

A police report shows Officer Hobbs arrived at the scene and wrongfully assumed Hoolihan was drunk. Hobbs forced himself into the car and struck Hoolihan twice with a closed fist to the face and another blunt elbow blow to his head.

"My face was all beat up, my ribs were either broke or cracked," said Hoolihan.  "I had black and blue marks on the back of my legs, you can tell it was from the baton. There were, I think, seven stitches above my one eye."

CBS Atlanta obtained the gruesome pictures of Hoolihan, bloodied and beaten on the side of the road, at the hands of an officer who was supposed to protect him.

"He was out of control," said Hoolihan.  "The next thing I remember is waking up in the ambulance."

Hoolihan's was just one of 12 disturbing complaints filed against Hobbs over the last five years at the Clayton County Police Department.

"He's basically being a thug and a terrorist," said security guard Vic Morton.

Morton responded to a call for help at the apartment complex he protects. But he ended up handcuffed and arrested for "obstruction" because he says Hobbs is power hungry and wanted someone to arrest.

"That was just plain police brutality," Morton said. "I think he needs to be investigated, and think he basically needs to be put off the force."

"Will you speak with us?" Saltzman said approaching Hobbs about his alleged misconduct.

"You can leave my property now," he said.

When Saltzman tried to speak with Hobbs he called the police.

"Will you tell me why you beat Mr. Hoolihan up?" Saltzman asked.

"Off the property ma'am," Hobbs said.

When we went to ask Clayton County Police Chief Greg Porter the Tough Questions, he defended his officers' actions.

"Have you taken any disciplinary action against officer Hobbs?" Saltzman asked.

"No ma'am," he replied.

"Not a single suspension?" Saltzman questioned.

"No," he said.

CBS Atlanta confirmed there has been no disciplinary action taken against Hobbs, and not a single day of suspension for an officer with 58 incidents of use of force. That's nearly 20 times more often than an average Clayton County police officer had in the same time period.

"Do you think an officer can be threatened by somebody who is in a diabetic coma and basically passed out?" Saltzman asked.

"I wasn't there," said Chief Porter.  "Again, there was a thorough investigation. The investigation revealed that his actions were within departmental policy and procedure."

"They just think they're above the law because they are the law," Hoolihan said.

Records show multiple cases of closed-fist beatings, knee strikes, and choke-holds used by Hobbs. But the chief defends what other's characterize as terrorizing and an abuse of force.

"I am comfortable as police chief with his actions," Chief Porter continued.

Possibly the most disturbing part of the records CBS Atlanta uncovered is a report from a fellow officer who resigned, sighting Hobbs' out-of-control behavior and racist remarks as the reason why.

Clayton county's internal affairs office has only sided with citizens in one out of every 15 claims against an officer. They did not substantiate a single complaint against Hobbs.

"The chief certainly can't clean up the county if he's not going to clean up his police force," Morton said.

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